wing t offense

Wing T Offense: Plays, Strategies, and Tips

In football, winning games is all about possession and making ground. Get the ball, make some yards and get as close as possible to the end zone. This does sound simple. right? Well, it’s never that simple!

Coaches have to employ different strategies and play to score points. If you’re going to score amazing touchdowns, then you need a play that helps you keep possession.

One such play that has stood the test of time is the wing t offense.

The wing t formation is not a traditional offense and one most defensive teams are not used to seeing a lot. It’s a very deceptive offense.

Looking to learn more about the wing t run plays? Keep reading below as a breakdown of the formation, who should use it, how to it up, and its pros and cons.

What Is the Wing T Offense?

The wing t offense is a formation that features one tight end, multiple wide receivers, and one running on the field. It lacks the big guys that most formations employ. In a way, the wing t offense is a hybrid of the double-win and single-wing formations.

The formation traces its roots to the 50s when it was first used by the Delaware University Team coached by Dave Nelson to obliterate teams. Dave Nelson is accredited with the formation after doing 105-40 over the 15 years he was the university’s head coach.

Well, that doesn’t mean the formation didn’t exist before him. However, he changed everything making it a complete formation and meshing together sweeping moves.

He created the tailback and offensive displacement techniques. In addition, he created a passing option.

Overall, wing t plays are very deceptive, blocking and pulling defenders out of position. This allows the quarterbacks and the running backs holes to exploit in the defensive line.

It’s a team-oriented formation that utilizes a tailback, a fullback, and an occasional halfback. 

In the formation, the quarterback will not hand off the ball but instead toss it to a deep coming right back.

Who Should Use the Wing T Offense?

Now that you know more about wing t football, who should use it?

Teams with a lot of players that can run the ball are best suited for the wing t offense. This includes teams with quarterbacks that can run but are not suited for power running.

football game

The formation features three backfield players that run the ball. It also requires a quarterback that can run the ball.

This formation does not work well for teams with straight power ahead. It requires deception and speed. Therefore, the offensive doesn’t have to be massive and mauling.

It’s a formation that teams with a dual-threat quarterback should employ.

Overall, the formation applies to all football levels from high school to the NFL. However, it works perfectly for youth teams, where players are still developing skill and size. 

The wing t formation playbook recommends the offense for coaches working in the youth football systems. It is a great formation that involves every player in the team.

Continue reading below to know teams that should use the wing t offense formation:


Teams with tactically minded offensive linemen should use the wing t offense. This is because the offense needs linemen that can read the game and anticipate how the opposition is lining up. They should also know where exactly to attack.

Linemen don’t just block and push. They also create holes and pockets for call carriers and dummy runners to pass through. In the wing t formation, linemen play the most important role.

Without linemen in this formation, defenders can easily shut down your runners. This stops teams from advancing towards the opposition field position.


The offense also works perfectly for teams with smart quarterbacks. It doesn’t require big throwers or big QBs. Instead, it requires QBs that can anticipate how the defense is lining up and easily offload the ball to a running back.

The running back will then split the defense and make yards. Additionally, you need the QB to be a confident runner. This is because they provide a third offensive option for the formation.

Teams With Blocking Running Backs

Lastly, the wing t offense is effective for teams with blocking running backs. Since it’s a very deceptive play, you’ll need running backs that can draw defenders and create gaps for the ball carriers.

It simply means every player on the team must be good at blocking and drawing defensive players out of position. This creates spaces and holes for your team to run through.

Who Should Not Use the Wing T Offense?

Teams with strong quarterbacks that are not mobile are not ideal for the wing t offense formation. The offense needs very mobile quarterbacks.

running football player

It should also not be used for teams with a bunch of skilled wide receivers that lack running backs. This formation needs backs that can run so well with the ball.

In addition, the wing t offense will not work for teams with traditional pocket passers. This is a winger soccer position where you need players that can run at defenders, block, and create pocket holes. 

The wing t offense requires backfield players that run and block successfully with the football on the handoff.

You also need the offensive linemen to be pretty fast and agile. While linemen need to be strong enough to block runs, agility is more needed for deception.

How To Set Up Wing T Formation Play

You can set up wing T formation play by combining the T formation with the classic wing formation. The wingback and tight end need to align and give more coverage.

There need to be 2 or 3 right-backs to align behind the quarterbacks to ensure more coverage on the one side of the scrimmage.

However, this formation can vary depending on the players. The following players set up the wing t formation.

  •  A tight end
  • Two offensive guards
  • Two offensive tackles and
  • A center

In the backfield end, the coach will set the following players

  • A quarterback
  • A wide back
  • Full back
  • A split end
  • Tailback

Usually, before play starts, a coach decides whether the team will provide coverage on the right or left wing.

How the Wing T Offense Is Run

The wing t offense is run through three states. Let’s have a closer look at the 3 stages:

Stage 1: Personnel

The first stage is organizing the personnel. The offense utilizes 7 players that line up on the scrimmage line.

Of the 7 players, one will split out wide in what we call a wide receiver. The other 6 remain the traditional offensive linemen. 

According to fair catch rules, the receiver raises one arm above the head and waves side to side while the ball is in flight for a fair catch.

There will also be three backfield players and a quarterback. The three backfield players are the tailback, fullback, and wingback.

Stage 2: Formation

With the personnel ready, coaches need to create a formation to run the wing on offense. Form an offensive line with smaller splits in between.

football players on white jersey

Line a split end up wide on the weak side opposite the tight end of the field. Small splits are ideal making it easier for linemen on misdirection plays.

Next, line up the quarterback and have him take a snap under the center. Line the wingback diagonal to the tight end of the backfield.

Overall, you can create varying formations, something that makes the wing t offense very deceptive.

Stage 3: The plays

The last stage is where you set the plays in motion. Here, you can have different plays from the toss sweep, jet sweep, buck sweep, wing T drive, wing T counter, and the wing T throwback pass.

Let’s look at the different plays in detail.

Toss Sweep

A toss sweep is a hybrid offensive play that combines the wing formation and the triple-option offense. It’s a play that gives the quarterback four attacking options.

You’ll have the offensive line taking men in defense and creating gaps on the right hand of scrimmage. This allows the halfback to slip around the corner.

Jet Sweep

The jet sweep is a much faster play with the ball that moves outside the tight end. It gets the halfback running deep and wide away from the quarterback and field backers.

In the play, the fullback runs ahead and crashes into the line of scrimmage. Once he passes the line, he will put down the linebacker on the wide or middle.

As it happens, the tight end will cover the side linebackers and have the halfbacks sweeping around the back of the scrimmage line to attack any holes.

Buck Sweep

The buck sweep is an old play that has been around since the invention of the wing t offense. It’s a deceptive play that utilizes fullback and offensive guards to run a decoy play. The halfback will then run upfield with the football.

It is a great play that holds linebackers in position and drags them to the right-hand side of the pitch. This gives your runners a free shot in the middle.


Wing T Counter

A wing T counter creates confusion for the defenders by flipping the formation and creating a misdirection run. The play sees wingbacks lining up on the weak side, diagonal from the offensive tackle.

The tailback usually lines on the stronger side. It is another deceptive play where the split ends to run out to clear the quarterbacks from the middle while tailbacks run laterally down the field.

You will have the wing-back delay movement and then slide off to the handoff from the quarterback.

Wing T Throwback Pass

Lastly, we have the throwback pass which involves staple misdirection passes. It’s a unique play designed to trick defenses into a running play with both the offensive tackles and center blocking straight ahead.

The formation features a wing back on the strong side and a tailback on the weaker side. Usually, the play appears to run left but they avoid committing a penalty.

You’ll have both offensive guards pulling behind the scrimmage line towards the left. They will act as if they are leading the blockers and going for a run to the weaker side. 

This will have the 4 remaining players apart from the tailback running pass routes to the weaker side.

The deception moves defenders to the weaker side leaving an opening on the strong side. When the ball snaps, the QB will fake a run to the left side before making a stop in the last minute and sending a throwback to the stronger side.

Wing T Offense Strengths

  • Good for undersized lineman: Teams don’t have to rely on hugely built linemen to execute their offense. All that is needed is a lineman that is fast and agile. This makes the play ideal for youth teams.
  • Deceptive: The play is very deceptive and remains the best at confusing the opposition. The different plays can trick defenses and allow other players to sneak the ball upfield.
  • Winning without a gunslinger: The offense can get teams winning without making those crazy throws. It’s a dependable strategy that allows teams to advance upfield without big throw bombs.
executing wing t offense

Wing T Offense Weaknesses

  • Difficult to execute: Pulling the wing T offense is not easy. With so many runners going in different directions, teams need to act together and practice to prop[erly execute the play.
  • Expose the quarterbacks: It’s easy to expose your quarterbacks as more offensive players move towards the scrimmage line.

What NFL Team Runs a Wing T Offense?

The Cleveland Browns run a T-wing offense with so many elements of the offense in their game. The incorporation of the wing t offense was done by interim coordinator Freddie Kitchens.

Before that, the formation was rarely seen in the NFL.

Is Wing a Good Offense?

Without a doubt, the wing is a good offense for deceiving the defense and creating gaps and pockets. It’s an effective offense since most defenses cannot truly see the running plays.

throwing football

How Do You Beat Wing T Offense?

You can defend the wing T offense by trying to stay even in any wing T formation. You need to be keen to avoid pulling to one side and exposing the other. However, it is still pretty hard to defend since moves are unpredictable.

Who Created the Wing T Offense?

The Wing T offense was invented by Dave Nelson in the 1950S in Maine. He perfected and completed the offense at Delaware University.

The wing t offense did exist before Dave Nelson. However, its completion is attributed to Dave Nelson who completed the offense and created sweeping moves.


Well, that’s from me! You now know everything about the wing T offense and how it is run. The Wing T formation is a deceptive formation that tricks defenses with multiple wide receivers, one tight end, and one running in the field. 

While it’s difficult to execute, the formation can give you yardage when executed correctly.

The formation works best for teams with small and athletic players. It’s widely used in lower league levels where young players are still growing and developing.

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